Monday, January 2, 2017

Breakthrough ideas could be on the way, but from where?

If you are a person who has a habit of coming up with great ideas then this article is not for you.
For everyone else, here are pointers which have worked in past and present of the history of mankind.

From where breakthrough idea come from..

3) It comes later from simple notes you took down today: on your notepad or on a mobile, of something which got your attention momentarily but with a deep wow within. It could be about a problem, solution or just a picture of someone doing something.

2) It comes from chatting with new people coffee or a bar: but usually at a place which is not too upscale, a place where you are yourself.

4) It comes from spending lots of time in articulating a known challenge or a problem: and revising the problem statement many times around.

7) It comes from following your fascination.

5) It comes from purposely disconnecting from the “How will that be done but..” mindset.

6) It comes from talking to someone from the different domain, industry, education, geography, social status, gender.

10) It comes from visiting a new place; it could be just around the corner of your usual place.

8) It comes from switching off the gadgets.

9) It comes from listening in.

1) Lastly, and importantly, it comes from a belief that you can get a breakthrough idea!

It may not come by jumbling up the sequence numbering, or well it might!

You possibly cannot crowdsource breakthrough ideas, but you can get lot of help by running an idea competition.

Once you have a breakthrough idea, ideaken can help in getting the technologies you need to make your idea come to life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How to reduce cost of Open Innovation

One of the assumptions when firms start open innovation is that it will cost less compare to innovating in-house, and this assumption is mostly true.  The subsequent question however is can Open Innovation itself be cheaper than what it costs today?

The primary cost of Open innovation can be divided into two main buckets.

Cost bucket One – In-house team which takes care of coordination with intermediaries and internal technology team.

Cost bucket Two – Intermediary costs.

For the cost bucket One, 3 key pointers to reduce cost

1) Avoid too many dedicated persons handling Open Innovation, instead time share, say 10% of the time of highly motivated people, who love innovation and would happily give that extra time and energy.

2) Have central budget for Open Innovation; this will offer prioritization decision in the hands of Open innovation team who will take decisions after hearing the ROI pitch from the technology requester team. This is a big cost saver.

3) Define Goals, it is tough to define Goals in innovation, so define goals for processes, for number of interactions, even number of failures. (Must fail 2 more time, nice!)

For the cost bucket Two, 3 key pointers to reduce cost

1) Avoid consulting cost, trust me consulting is overrated and overpriced. You might need consulting in some cases but when you need and how much you need must be scrutinized.

2) Shop around, you might be comfortable with the vendor you are used to work with, but don’t forget open innovation is all about trying out new avenues, apply this logic to vendor selection also. You might be able to see cost reduced to half, while outcome remain comparable. Try ideaken !

3) Make some of your fees to Intermediary linked to shortlisting of the solutions.
Where there any other points which worked for you in reducing the cost of Open Innovation. Do share.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

TED Presentation on Open Innovation by our associate Lucia

Monday, March 23, 2015

Open Innovation - A chance to transform your organisation

1.  Every organisation wants to do Open Innovation.  But few succeed in doing it in the right spirit.  Issues are more related to culture rather than lack of external solutions.

2.  Best way to start is to start on projects which are new and just starting.  Get both the internal and external teams working together - exchanging ideas/solutions and knowledge.  It's amazing how everything seems to fall in place once you open your mind and start working together with common objectives.

3.  Never expect that an outside solution will fit your entire problem as it is.  It rarely happens.  Typically the Open Innovation solution needs to be integrated with custom solutions before it can be presented.  Hence budget in time and money for this crucial integration piece.

4.  Success of all open innovation initiatives should be measured only by one simple question - Would we have thought of this if we have not gone the open innovation route?  Most companies would continue their open innovation initiatives if it was truly measured on this parameter.  Real successes will come further down the line when the entire engine is well oiled but that will take time and you got to keep the faith.

5.  The real strength of open innovation solutions are generally hidden.  Most leaders in organizations only view the solution as it is and see if it meets their criteria.  However they generally miss the thought process behind the solution. Mature organizations evaluate the thought process more than the actual solution.  The beauty of open innovation is that it exposes different angles to the problem at hand usually in unrestricted ways.

In summary - companies should view open innovation as an opportunity - to get diverse thought processes and ideas from experts all over the world.  In today's globalized world, it is not just a lost opportunity if companies are not doing it but could also be the reason why they need to play catch up with their competitors tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Congratulations! to the winners (Recent contest at ideaken)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Crowdsourcing for Competitive Intelligence

Most companies keep track of competitors, – be it new product launches or their strategic initiatives.  They also hire external consultants who are knowledgeable to prepare Strength / Weaknesses / Opportunities / Threats (SWOT) for all of their competitors.

Given this background, let’s ask a question – can crowdsourcing be used to achieve this activity?  I was exploring this thought over the last few days. Let us examine this in more detail:

Crowdsourcing relies on distributed expertise and experts. 

The inputs that you are seeking are of high level and of a strategic nature, this is good as experts are able to contribute their opinions freely.

The reward for these challenges needs some experimentation before we get it right.  Since these questions are strategic by nature and experts are typically industry veterans, we need to have a model of paying for expertise by the hour to begin with. 

It is important to ensure that any confidential agreements are not breached while engaging with us.  So for example - experts who are currently in the roll of our competitors should not be approached or invited.  We are mainly looking for ex-employees or retired folks who have expertise to share based on their past experience.

So let us look at how this will translate in practice with an example:

Let us assume you are in charge of the Automobile Manufacturing business for cars.  You are interested in knowing how supply chain issues or best practices are implemented in your factory environment which results in efficient operations. 

You could put up a challenge clearing inviting experts from supply chain domain who have expertise in running car operations.  They can be either independent consultants or retired folks but should not be employed currently by your reputed competitors (Can mention names if particular).

Once the challenge is ready and communicated to the outside world, you should have a mechanism of screening and selecting experts. Since it is the internet and given the nature of the challenges, we should be prepared with a process to identify relevant profiles and eliminate the rest.  The standard way of achieving this is through the use of screening questions which are designed to weed out the non-relevant experts. (Preferably with a thank you note).

Once you find the relevant expert, engage with them to understand their standard consulting rates per hour and ideally agree on the number of hours this consulting engagement would need to meet the requirements.  Also have a clear understanding on what you are expecting out of this transaction.

These two considerations will lead you to a smooth transaction on both sides.  You can also have a standard set of terms and conditions which you both sign upfront before you start the engagement defining the scope of the engagement and any other terms of reference.  It is best to review the first set of terms and conditions with the legal team to avoid any surprises but over a period of time, it will be standard.

Once the assignment is completed and signed off, it is important to document the findings and more importantly review the new knowledge gained with an open mind and see how you can tweak (if required) and incorporate in your company environment. 

ideaken helps companies set up continuous competitive intelligence cell at your company using a crowdsourcing model.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New kind of Competitive Advantage for a RFP response.

You already know about Product, Support, Cost or a Geographic proximity related Competitive Advantages. You will most probably use the right advantages and value propositions while responding to a typical RFP. But there is a new kind of Competitive Advantage used by the large to medium organizations, and it is about Crowdsourcing the expert or niche inputs from outside of your company, just in time, and make your proposal stand out. Let’s elaborate using a walk through example.

You head the presales unit for a company, your primary source of new business is via responding to the RFPs from the clients around the world, who belong to diverse industries and domains & Geographies.

You receive one such RFP. The team does the initial analysis and comes up with the list of expertise needed to prepare winning proposal, along with the list of questions to be ask the RFP submitter.

Best way to have a competitive advantage is to be really good in the Industry and the domain this  RFP belongs and also understand the requirement well. But there are two issues, one is the availability of right resources at your end, two you still might have only the high level understanding of the problem, industry and domain of this RFP.

The route most of the presales people follow in such a scenario is talk GENERIC, talk at HIGH LEVEL, talk what can be neither right nor wrong! Or still worst, just Copy/Paste from previous proposal. Only issue with such approach is there are too many vendors who will take this approach.

Instead, imagine, you have a vendor who can Securely and anonymously crowd source just in time expert  inputs (Telephonic, Web, Email). With this newly acquired knowledge your proposal response or consulting deliverable would stand apart in terms of..

a) Localized industry & environmental know-how.
b) Knowledge of real issues and hence possible proposed solutions approaches.
c) Your confidence that you are on the same page with your client

We at ideaken help your company implement this approach and bring in noticeable increase in the quality of your RFP responses.

We have finished working on more than 120 projects, and have delivered increased success in consulting assignments and improved RFP win ratio by 5-25%.  

Contact us to discuss our “Competitive Advantage” service for your company today.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Planning an Innovation Competition?

So, you have decided to hold an innovation competition and get some creative ideas from experts all over the world, or from specific communities of interest; or you might be using it as an indirect marketing tool to create awareness of your product.

The biggest issue I see with some of the innovation competitions, is the expectation the companies have from participants in terms of understanding long and complex jargon, so much that what they want participants to do almost gets lost in the long description. So, having a clear ask is a key, but that does not mean you cannot spice it up. Titles like “Your chance to design for your Olympic hero” or “Ever thought you would have a green idea?” can do the trick.

I believe whoever runs the innovation competition does not have an expectation to really get to a breakthrough innovation using the entries they get; but if they do, then they most probably, will not succeed. However; if they have expectations to find the ingredients, ideas, starting point of the thoughts which eventually result in some sort of innovation then they are on a right track.

Have you used innovation competition for marketing? If not, then you must. Companies are using it to cover many aspects of marketing. When someone is running an innovation competition, the first impression it sends out to the market is that the company believes in innovation. This subtle but very powerful message, then can take on a role of engaging the curious population; on the way it creates the awareness of the product or a service and then in the last it can also end up getting some good ideas, problems, improvement suggestions; which can then be taken forward by the company to make measurable difference to the bottom line.

Open innovation competition is far more suitable for fetching real innovations into the company and has a slightly different tone, in terms of formulating the brief. It also has different ways of reaching out and engaging the participants. While innovation competition would ideally have a cash reward, open innovation would also have a mechanism to license, buy or co-develop the solutions. Pointing out this little difference; that it is good to know what your goals are and accordingly make the right selection, organize and execute.

ideaken can help in running an innovation competition for your organisation.

Monday, September 30, 2013

What does collaboration mean to you?

Collaboration is a term no organisation is ignoring in today's hyper connected and globalised world.  But the word means different things to enterprises depending on their priorities.  For some - it could mean as simple as enabling employees to work together to break silos.  For some others - it could mean breaking boundaries and enabling partners, customers and even general public to work together for a common cause.  It could be a mixture of all of this or some of this depending on the confidentiality requirements of the project.

It takes time and energy - We live in a hyper connected and a world built on instant gratification.  We expect immediate results and want to know the results of our initiatives  immediately.  Unfortunately collaboration projects are more complicated than that and takes time to show results.  While it is possible for results to show immediately in small controlled groups (for example collaborating with a group of employees), collaboration with a larger set especially those based outside your organisation takes time before it yield results.  So keep the faith!

Trust is paramount - Reflect on this.  When was the last time you revealed details to an outsider on your first meeting in an enterprise setting?  Collaboration calls for exchange of ideas and some knowledge about your corporate environment.  Due to this, it flourishes fully only when trust in either parties is established.  Though you can help build trust by creating a conducive and transparent environment, it does take time.  So do define the rules and be consistent.

Feedback is important - Since campaigns take time to show results and building trust is important, how do you keep the collaborators engaged?  One of the best ways of doing it is through continuous and regular feedback.  You need to spend your time and energy giving feedback to your collaborators and motivate them to help you.  It also conveys a message to them that you care and are serious about this.  It is also a great way to build connections and understand the pulse of your collaborators.

However small you must celebrate successes - Collaboration needs to be treated like an investment or a plant that needs to be nurtured.  You need to treat collaborators as your extended employee team and work on encouraging and celebrating even their small successes initially.  It is equally important to think from the collaborator's perspective rather than only your own.  Remember true collaboration happens only when there are win-win equations created.  One-sided relationships don't last long and will never realise the true potential of collaboration.

Involve senior management - Collaboration is a strategic initiative.  There is only so much that middle or lower managers can achieve.  Hence it pays to involve senior management and get direction from them on your future collaboration initiatives.  Ideally collaboration projects are best driven top down to ensure that the message is driven throughout the organisation.  In some cases, it also helps to show some initial success starting small to convince the top management which then helps to build the business case.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Collaborative Research gaining momentum?

Innovation might be the ultimate aim of R&D activities in general, at academia however focus is on education, research and ultimately the placements for their students.

R&D is a very logical one step just before one systematically innovate something; of course lot many innovations happen without any R&D at all. After visiting approximately ten prestigious academia in last six months, I have come to a conclusion that for Asian academia innovation is a good to have thing and not must have, now, that may not sound that good a news, but I don’t see anything wrong about it, especially post I put it through a perspective, perspective of if innovation is the need of hour to make things go around. Now I am not stating that innovation is not happening, I am only pointing out that it is yet to cover some distance! Which it will when non Asian countries stops innovating enough.

Collaborative research is a derivation of traditional research where the activity of research is more open for the inputs from diverse entities. It also allows a research topic to be arrived at collaboratively.

Collaborative research is gaining momentum because it aligns well with the core goals of academia viz. Education, Research and Placements. Here is how.

People are the real source of education, and when you supplement your research with diverse experiences from around the geography; you are able to relate what you read in the books far better than you would do without such interactions.

It is usually the skills like creativity, social interactions and management which makes education of any use, when you collaborate, you learn these skills.

Our education system is broad based, meaning we study bit of many things and do not go really deep into one thing. Collaborative research provides opportunity for someone not doing a full time research to slice it up and go deep into a specific topic.

Hence Collaborative research makes better education.

In today’s fast pace world, a proven technology is a outdated one, similarly if research takes too long then by the time it finishes it probably is outdated. Key is to join forces and bring it out fast.

Anything beyond a basic research needs more talent than an individual can bring in, though he or she can learn all of them but there is hardly a possibility to do so in a given time and constraints.

Ultimate aim of any research is to unearth something which is yet to be unearthed. And not every piece of knowledge is documented nor will it in the future. Collaborative research provides better changes of tabling something which is yet not tabled.

Hence Collaborative research makes better research.

Industry know how and networking are better options to get placed then another aptitude test at the campus placements. Who does not want be free from limited options placement provides?

Your rank must not be the only measure to get placed, participating in collaborative research provides additional credential which has tangible benefits during studies. For placements and beyond. 

Collaborative research provide students take the guess work out and present more realistic findings, socialise and network, but more importantly this experience prepares them to come out of the theoretical world early and fish for themselves.

Hence Collaborative research makes better placements.

Be it Basic research, Applied research, Product research or Market research, be it a long duration or short, be it for a topic of your interest or kind of, be it with monetary benefits or not so much – look out for a collaborative research opportunity.

ideaken provides opportunities for collaborative research for academia, professors, students, industry players and research institutes, please get in contact with us at